Chapbook Contest–Poetry, Fiction, and Non-Fiction

On the ride home from work yesterday I got the germ of a new book idea.  I want it to be a collection of creative non-fiction essays organized around a theme.  Aside from basically everything David Sedaris writes, there aren’t many non-fiction short story collection books for sale in stores.  So I was wondering, how does one get them published?  And where do they get them published?  Do you get an agent or go straight to a publisher?  What publishers are actually interested in that kind of manuscript? Obviously everyone is interested in David Sedaris because he’s awesome: 

To me, this book idea feels a little bit like a poetry chapbook, which I’m more familiar with, and I know there are oodles of poetry chapbook contests out there where people can win money and get published all at one, so I figure there’s got to be similar contests for other genres, right?


I found a few fiction chapbook contests–Gold Line Press, for example, has one (deadline 11/1/11) where you can win $500 and publication with an ISBN number–but only one non-fiction one.  They don’t have the deadline posted for this year’s competition, but it’s hosted by AWP and has been an annual contest since 1975, so it seems like a pretty safe bet that the contest will be held again.  If you have a similar manuscript done or in the works–they permit some of the short stories to have been published elsewhere first, so you could try to assemble some previously published stuff into a submission–then read the info below and submit!

AWP Award Series:  The Donald Hall Prize for Poetry, The Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction

Who/What is Illegible:  The competition is open to all authors writing in English regardless of nationality or residence.   Only book-length manuscripts are eligible.

What They Want:  Poetry-48 pages minimum text; short story collection and creative nonfiction-150-300 manuscript pages; novel-at least 60,000 words.

How They Want It:  Snail Mail.  Manuscripts must be typed and double-spaced on good quality paper, 8 1/2 x 11 inches. Poetry manuscripts may be single-spaced. Photocopies or copies from letter-quality printers are acceptable, but dot matrix is not acceptable. Manuscripts should not be bound or in a folder; they must be binder-clipped or rubber-banded together.  See more submission guidelines here.

Fee?  $30

Prize:  The Donald Hall Prize for Poetry is an award of $5,000 and publication for the best book-length manuscript of poetry. This competition is open to published and unpublished poets alike. The Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction awards the winner $5,000 and publication. Winners in the novel and creative nonfiction categories receive a $2,000 cash honorarium from AWP and publication. The Award Series conducts an evaluation process of writers, for writers, by writers. AWP hires a staff of “screeners” who are themselves writers; the screeners review manuscripts for the judges. Typically, the screeners will select ten manuscripts in each genre for each judge’s final evaluations.

Good Luck!

One thought on “Chapbook Contest–Poetry, Fiction, and Non-Fiction

  1. Joyce says:

    I am working on my first chapbook. It is a collection of essays for women. Some are true, some based on real events and some are pure fiction. Where does such a book fit? Is it possible to be a combination of nonfiction and fiction?

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